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Races set for general election
By Kevin Hanson
and Brian Beckley
The 31st Legislative District field appears to have been set for November’s general election, despite a of couple of races from last week’s primary remaining close through the weekend.
Races are unofficial until certification, which occurs at the county level Sept. 1. The state is expected to certify Sept. 7.
Primary voters helped pare the field Aug. 17 in races for the district’s Senate post, as well as both seats on the state House of Representatives. Washington employs a “top two” system, which means the two candidates earning the greatest number of votes advance to the fall election, despite party affiliation. In two of the district’s three races, voters will choose between two Republicans.
House Position 1
A close race remained interesting in the days following the primary election.
The No. 1 spot didn’t change, as Enumclaw’s Cathy Dahlquist kept her lead with approximately 37 percent of the vote. But the second and third positions changed hands late in the week. South Prairie Mayor Peggy Levesque was clinging to a slim lead Thursday over Shawn Bunney but, by Friday, the tide had turned. The week closed with Bunney, a Republican and two-term member of the Pierce County Council, managing almost 32 percent of the vote; Levesque, a Democrat, was at 31.35 percent.
Dahlquist, a member of the Enumclaw School Board, was tough on her home turf, getting almost 45 percent of the vote in King County. Bunney was the favorite in Pierce County.
Dahlquist said her victory stemmed from voters’ realization that she and her husband are small-business owners, that she’s not a career politician and she has a keen understanding of public education.
“People realize I’m a real person,” Dahlquist said. “Every time I speak, I gain votes.”
House Position 2
Christopher Hurst coasted to a comfortable victory in a three-way race and will face Republican Patrick Reed in November’s general election.
“I’m very pleased and very gratified,” Hurst said, noting his primary numbers are among the best he’s ever received.
Hurst admits he took a risk with some of his votes last session – which flew in the face of his Democratic colleagues and angered certain special interest groups – and further went out on a limb by filing as an Independent Democrat.
But he still managed better than 58 percent of the primary vote. Reed, from Sumner, picked up 31 percent and newcomer Daniel Geske managed 11 percent.
Hurst complains that the Democratic majority took the easy way out last session and bent to the will of powerful friends. “We postponed tough decisions and made things worse for 2011,” he said.
Despite a comfortable margin in the primary, Hurst said he’ll campaign harder between now and November spreading a simple message: “Out only task is to create jobs, expand the economy and get us out of this recession,” he said.
The 31st Legislative District’s state Senate seat will remain in Republican hands, the only question left is whose hands?
Returns from the Aug. 17 primary election show incumbent Sen. Pam Roach finishing in first place with 40.85 percent of the vote.
Finishing second with 22.64 percent of the vote is Sumner City Councilman Matt Richardson.
Former Buckley Councilman and Democrat Ron Weigelt finished in third with 19.91 percent of the vote while fire commissioner and Federal way Police Officer Ray Bunk finished fourth with 16.61 percent.
That makes it a Republican vs. a Republican for all the marbles in November.
Roach said this week she was appreciative to those who voted for her, adding that 40 percent is “very good with four candidates.”
“I support them and hope to have their continuing support through the election,” she said.
Roach said she hopes to show voters the differences between herself and Richardson, whom she characterized as a “very troubled individual,” citing events from his past that have been reported in regional media.
Roach reiterated her opposition to tax increases and support of an initiative requiring a two-thirds majority vote for any tax increase and said voters are looking for someone who protects Constitutional liberties and stands up for them.
Richardson thanked voters and said his candidacy was an opportunity for all of those who did not vote for Roach to come together.
“I think the people of this district have a great opportunity to unify behind a candidate who can be effective for the people of this district no matter the party,” he said.
Richardson said he is prepared for an aggressive fight as the candidates make the final run toward November, adding that Roach has campaigned dirty in the past and he expects her to do so again.
“Unfortunately, instead of issues, she’s going to have to defame me to win,” he said.
The general election is Nov. 2.